Cindy Janke (1943-2015)

Cindy Janke May 2012 need event maybe Capitol Hill (2)

The Historical Society of Washington, D.C., mourns the passing of former staffer and long-time volunteer and member Lucinda P. Janke. Cindy died on October 27, 2015, after suffering fatal injuries from a fall. She was 72.

Cindy came to the calling of local history relatively late, but when she arrived, she quickly made up for any lost time. She had earned a B.A. from Wellesley College in 1965. Her political science major led to a copy editor job in Washington for a political think tank. She married John Janke, and they moved to Capitol Hill with their two young children, Jenny and Johnny in 1968. John, who had been working for the U.S. Government, switched careers to sell real estate—especially the old houses that had attracted the family to Capitol Hill, according to a 2005 appreciation by Nancy Metzger for the Capitol Hill Restoration Society. In 1972 Cindy began working with C. Dudley Brown & Associates, an interior design firm specializing in period interiors and historic preservation.  That work, and collaborations with her late husband on historic restorations, deepened her interest in period design and social history.

In 2000 Cindy received an M.A. in Museum Studies from George Washington University, and completed her professional transition. She became curator of the Kiplinger Washington Collection and company archives, followed by collections manager for the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.. She consulted on exhibitions for the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, the Heurich House Foundation, the Coalition for Franklin School, among others. A friend and colleague of the late Ruth Ann Overbeck, with whom she collaborated on an article for Washington History magazine, Cindy gave numerous Overbeck Memorial Lectures. Cindy taught as an adjunct professor for GW, and led walking tours of Capitol Hill, especially Congressional Cemetery and John Philip Sousa’s neighborhood. She gave frequent public talks, and if she wasn’t the speaker at a D.C. history lecture, more often than not she was an enthusiastic presence in the audience. Cindy contributed to many compilations of history. She published essays and, in 2013, A Guide to Civil War Guide to Washington, the Capital of the Union. In 2012 Cindy curated “Window to Washington: The Kiplinger Collection” at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and updated it the following year. Just before her death, she completed work as co-curator on “For the Record: The Art of Lily Spandorf,” an exhibition on view at the new George Washington University Museum.

No appreciation of Cindy’s life would be complete without mention of some of the organizations that benefited from her energy and  skills as a volunteer. She was a founder of the Washington Chapter of the Victorian Society as well as Cultural Tourism DC. She served in the leadership of Congressional Cemetery Association, the Annual D.C. Historical Studies Conference Committee, the Association of Oldest Inhabitants, the Kiplinger Foundation Board, and the Historical Society.

The Historical Society of Washington, D.C., extends its sincere condolences to Cindy’s family and friends.


Memorial service for Lucinda Prout Janke, 1943-2015, will take place Saturday, January 16 at Christ Church, Episcopal, 620 G Street, SE, at 11 am. A reception and celebration follow immediately. Cindy Janke, who died unexpectedly on Tuesday, October 27, 2015, in Washington, DC, was an accomplished DC historian, and a 45-year resident of Capitol Hill. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in her memory to the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. and/or the Old Naval Hospital Foundation in support of the Hill Center Preservation Fund.

The family suggests that memorial donations be sent to the Old Naval Hospital Foundation in support of the Hill Center Preservation Fund or to the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.